Axel Jensen was born in 1932 in Trondheim. His father was a butcher and had a well-known sausage-making company. It was expected young Axel would follow in his father’s footsteps. His parents later divorced. He did go to university but lasted only a couple of days and then took up various odd jobs. He published his first novel in 1955 but was not happy with it and burned the remaining copies.
His first success came with his second novel – Ikaros – ung mann i Sahara (Icarus – A Young Man in Sahara). Jensen had a relationship with Marianne Ihlen, and she thought he was going to take her to Greece. However, he told her he was going with another woman and then changed his mind and went with Marianne. They lived on the Greek island of Hydra. They broke up, got back together and got married. but again he had an affair – with US painter Patricia Amlin. Marianne meanwhile started an affair with poet/singer Leonard Cohen, best remembered by Cohen’s song So Long, Marianne.
Jensen returned to Norway and continued to have a messy love life as well as mental health issues. He would also be very much involved in setting up the Oslo International Poetry Festival. He would later contract Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and died in 1971.
He wrote several novels as well as non-fiction works. Three of his novels have been translated into English.
1955 Dyretemmerens kors (novel)
1957 Ikaros – ung mann i Sahara (Icarus – A Young Man in Sahara) (novel)
1959 Line (A Girl I Knew) (novel)
1961 Joacim (novel)
1965 : Epp (novel)
1974 Mor India (novel)
1974 Onalila (poetry)
1978 Junior, eller Drømmen om pølsefabrikken som bibliotek (novel)
1978 Blodsband (autobiography)
1979 Senior (novel)
1992 Lul (novel)
1994 Det kollektive eventyr (on Norway and the EU)
1994 Gud leser ikke romaner (En vandring i Salman Rushdies (literature)
1995 Og resten står skrivd i stjernene (novel)
1995 Doctor Fantastic (cartoon)
1998 Pasienten i sentrum (articles)
1998 En mann for sin hatt: Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), (literature)
1998 Jumbo (novel)
2002 Livet sett fra Nimbus (autobiography)
2002 Guru – glimt fra Gurdjieffs verden (biography)
2008 Epp (Epp) (novel)